Terps Volleyball falls to No. 2 Nebraska

By: Nolan DeMott

The Maryland Terrapins (8-11) battled the defending champion and #2 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (15-1) on Sunday afternoon, getting a valuable opportunity, once again, to learn what it’s like to go up against the very best. The Terps were easily defeated in straight sets (25-16, 25-14, 25-17) in a match that was never really close. Despite the frustrating loss, Coach Steve Aird commended Nebraska on their stellar performance.

“They have a big weekend coming up against Minnesota and Wisconsin, [two top-ranked teams], and they did not look ahead,” Aird said. “They played a really clean match and credit goes to them for doing that. When you’re a top-ranked team, at times, it’s hard to keep your group focused through matches, [so] I thought they did a great job.”

In the match, Maryland actually got off to a relatively decent start; they were just down by three in the middle of the opening set. But after that, the Cornhuskers went on a 9-2 run to close the set. In fact, it was these extended runs that ended up placing Maryland out of contention in all three sets.

As the second set got under way, the Terps were out of it immediately. It was a magnificent display of consistency from a Nebraska team that only made one error in the entire set with 16 kills and three blocks. The Cornhuskers were dominant in every facet of the game. The one error in the second set was one of only seven in the entire match compared to 22 for Maryland. Coach Aird elaborated on how difficult it is to play against teams that are so consistent.

“The top end of the Big 10 is as good as I’ve seen in a long time,” Aird said.  “[Therefore], I think the conference demands great, and we’re [just] good. That’s just the reality of it… Part of it is, some of our players need to keep improving, but on the whole, we play in the toughest conference in the country.”

However, the Terrapins did come out strong to start set three; they only trailed 11-10 at one point. From then on, though, the Terrapins lost 14 of the next 21 points to lose 25-17. It followed a similar script compared to the first set; the Terps looked in it for a bit, and then unraveled extraordinarily quickly.

One player who did play well on the Maryland side was sophomore Hailey Murray, who had her best offensive game of the season, recording nine kills with only two errors on 14 attempts. Murray, in regards to her performance was quick to compliment other members of the team.

“The passes were there,” Murray said. “Taylor [Smith] was great. [She] really set me up for success.”

Aird recognized that much of the defensive game plan for Nebraska was going to be focused on stopping Gia Milana, and thus wanted to create an attacking balance. He thought the balance was “okay,” but did acknowledge that Murray was definitely more involved.

The other thing Aird stressed was how banged up his team is right now. Katie Myers has now officially been labeled as out for the year. Aylin Saran is out for the year. Senior Whitney Craigo will no longer play volleyball for Maryland in her career. And because of the lack of substitution options, both Angel Gaskin and Gia Milana have been forced to play through injury. Aird, therefore, went into the plan for the upcoming week.

“Tomorrow, we’ll try to get kids healthy and watch some film, and then we’ll have a practice the day [after] to worry about Michigan,” Aird said.